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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kibaki’s Game Plan: Is A Major Purge Imminent?

Most folks believe that history is pretty boring. And yet history never disappoints the researcher looking for answers to current problems. I am a researcher always looking for answers to current questions from history and I recently came across the following gem.

The Special Branch was formally created in 1952 mainly to help deal with the Mau Mau uprising. It acted as a secret intelligence unit for the colonial government. And guess what? What finished Mau mau was not the superior fire power. It was good intelligence from the Special Branch.

The reason why this information was a gem to me is because when the current mess is finally sorted out one of the things that will need to be looked at is the role played by the NSIS (National Security Intelligence Service) and especially the role of its’ Director General, one Major Gen, Michael Gichangi.

Historians will not fail to note that it was during Gichangi’s watch as “principal advisor to the president and the government of the Republic of Kenya on matters related to national security and intelligence” that the biggest political crisis in the history of East Africa unfolded in the country.

Fascinating tit bits about what the 49 year old did and more importantly what he did not do are beginning to emerge. Some unconfirmed reports indicate that President Kibaki is very upset and disappointed at the performance of the Director General during this period of crisis. The reason is that ODM leaders seem to have outwitted him at every corner. For instance it was widely expected that ODM would go to court after losing the presidential elections. However anybody who knew just a little about Raila Odinga would have known that there was no way he was going to go to Kenyan courts to seek legal redress. Especially after some suspicious appointments of judges just before the polls (interestingly everybody seems to have missed the significance of that). And as if that was not enough, the DG again wrongly predicted that the violence and unrest would easily fizzle out after all “the Luos will not throw stones for more than a day or two.” But what actually happened seems to have caught the intelligence community in Kenya by surprise. The Kalenjin community caused unprecedented chaos and deaths and are still a very serious threat.

Now the latest information this blogger is privy to indicates that the DG is about to make yet another huge mistake that will cost Kenyan lives and push the country over the cliff so to speak. It has been recognized that for the current government to survive, they will have to crack the whip. That will mean clamping down on dissenters. There are some people who believe that the purge on the media has already begun with the so-called ministry task force to analyze the media’s role before and after the 2007 general elections. Hardliners have been talking about that purge for months now and would like to include even the ODM top brass. One of Gichangi’s tasks will be to analyze the effects of such a move and its’ repercussions on national security. The verdict that Gichangi’s bosses will be pushing for is that of “it is manageable.” Indeed the arrest of the veteran Rift Valley MP Kibuor has yet to result in any violence in the Rift Valley and this should be an encouragement and apparent “proof” that the potential fall out can indeed be managed.

However information on the ground indicates that this would be yet another major miscalculation on the government side. The current relative calm being witnessed in most parts of the country can deceive. There are many who dread it and believe that what we are seeing is the usual calm before a major storm.

Those who make decisions in the Kibaki administration should remember that the same strategy of creating fear to nip dissent in the bud has recently been tried with disastrous results. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that when the violence started, the police were order to shoot to kill. The idea was to spread fear in the rioting mobs since it is widely believed that everybody fears death. Even animals fear death. That was a terrible, terrible miscalculation because it only fanned emotions and escalated the violence to new heights. Where else in the world have you heard of women and children being locked up in a church which is then set on fire as the perpetrators watch in glee, almost dancing to the terrible screams of agony?

Those who know Gichangi well say that he is a perfect fit into the Kibaki inner circle. Well educated and intelligent but too sure of himself and cocky so that big miscalculations are inevitable. Indeed one puzzle most Kenyans are yet to answer is how a man who never saw the inside of a High School (retired President Moi) ended up being a better manager and much more political savy operator than an economic professor who was the first African to score the maximum 6 points in the O-levels exams. The answer I believe is in the fact that there is a certain humbleness and streetwise nature in self-educated men who start out their careers in a less distinguished manner.

It is said that Kibaki does not think much of anybody who did NOT go to Makerere University let alone somebody who has never seen the inside of a University lecture hall. Little wonder that he is surrounded by intellectual types, very intelligent but political fools who have driven the country to disaster.

Incidentally one of the most influential advisors to President Kibaki at the moment is one Joe Wanjui. The man is as arrogant as they come and a lot more at that. He hails from the old school and “Luo” is to him a dirty word. Wanjui is extremely wealthy but the right question to ask here is why the multinational, Unilever edged him out of the company’s top management, prematurely.

Whatever Major Gen. Gichangi tells Kibaki this time, one thing is very clear, Mwai Kibaki’s game plan can only end up with one result and one result alone. CHAOS.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just How Broke Is The Kenyan Government?

When this crisis was just beginning and long before Kenyans and the international community knew who Mwai Kibaki really was, we tried to predict the outcome of this mess with a friend and we both agreed that the deadlock would not be broken by war or anything else.

It would all hinge on money.

If the Kibaki administration managed to keep the money flowing in and the bills paid, then it was going to be a long, long fight.

What we did not agree on with my friend (who is a financial expert and understands Kenya well) was just how vulnerable the Kenyan economy was. In his view it was going to take a lot to bring the folks at the Treasury down to their knees. He emphasized to me that the Kenyan economy was NOT the Zimbabwean economy. If truth be told, he has mostly been right. However a number of extraordinary factors have quickly combined to completely change the scenario.

Despite Finance Minister Amos Kimunya’s brave face and cocky statements to the effect that the economy would hardly be scathed even after the devastating post-election violence that has swept across the country, the reality is different.

We are not all financial experts so let’s keep this simple.

Imagine that Kenya is an individual who receives money but has numerous bills to pay. Survival hinges on receiving enough money to be able to pay their bills on time. Before we start looking at where the money is coming from it is important to note that this chap called Kenya hardly saves any money and in recent times has been a huge spender. That combination can be deadly.

This guy Kenya has been receiving most of his cash from tourism. In recent years tourists have been flooding the country in unprecedented numbers. We all know that that source of income has been wiped out. Probably the most telling sign that things are really bad was the cancellation of all Paris flights by Kenya Airways two days ago. While it is true that France does not give Kenya many tourists, one needs to understand how airlines like Kenya Airways work. Usually the idea is to juggle routes in such a way as to keep the income stream that is flowing in, as high as possible. Cancellation of one destination does not affect just that country. It will have a trickle down effect on virtually the entire European network and beyond because of issues like flight connections. If truth be told the managers at KQ must already be in a cold sweat.

The other major source that puts cash in Kenya’s pocket is the collection of taxes. Not only have numerous businesses not transacted much since December last year, but there are certain lucrative areas of tax collection that have been shut down. As you read this the Rift Valley, Kenya’s rich bread basket has virtually shut down. Again the effect of this cannot be limited to the Rift Valley alone. The businesses there had suppliers from all over the country some of whom will now have to close shop.

Spending on the other hand has gone through the roof since December 30th or thereabouts. Keeping some semblance of law and order has required the largest deployment of policemen and the military in the history of Kenya. The bill is a top secret but I can tell you that it is colossally HUGE.

The picture is pretty grim, but what this guy called Kenya is trying to do is put on a brave face and pretend that all is well. This is critical because as long as the Mboga woman whom you owe a big debt sees you driving in every day, then her confidence will still be in place because all people who keep cars on the road have a lot of money, or so she thinks. You don’t want her to see you catch the matatu as your car remains parked outside your compound. That would cause her to lose confidence and demand immediate payment and that would mean no more vegetables on your dinner table.

This is precisely the reason why Kenya has been at pains to paint an image of business as usual.

However as you read this, the government has ruthlessly cut down on all spending except that of very essential items. The idea is to keep wage and salary bills paid for as long as possible. But already all the signs are there that it is only a matter of time before some department of government has their salary delayed.

The reason why all this should worry Kenyans a lot is because the hard-line stance and the way PNU folks are talking does NOT make sense at all when you consider the cash situation. The facts suggest that Mwai Kibaki should have greatly softened in his stand by now. So what does he know that we DO NOT know?

How will the country survive the next few weeks and months?

It is frightening evidence that Mwai Kibaki may just be playing the most dangerous card of all. What I call the Samson option. You all know the Samson story in the bible. When surrounded by enemies on all sides and with his eyes gorged out, Samson felt his strength returning and asking God for the anointing one last time, he was guided to the pillars of the building and sued his strength to bring it all down, destroying himself and all his enemies with him.

God forbid that the slogan amongst insiders in State house is NOT; No Kibaki, No Kenya.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Big News Everybody Missed

Some very strange events took place yesterday in Nairobi.

Kofi Anan went into a meeting with Mwai Kibaki at the president’s office at Harambee house. When they emerged from the meeting it was announced that President Kibaki had completely rejected the power sharing idea floated by the International community to end the political crisis in Kenya.

Everybody seems to have missed that very significant development. Except the razor sharp alert KTN and Standard group folks. Daily Nation which has been carrying some disturbingly bizarre headlines, packaged the news differently and the headline is about Kibaki’s proposals to end the polls crisis. More on why the Nation are behaving the way they are, later in this post.

The significance of this news is that Mwai Kibaki has trashed what the entire International community is saying. The Americans are rich guys but one wonders what was the point of Condi Rice, burning jet fuel all the way to Nairobi to deliver a message that has been totally rejected without any serious consideration.

But even stranger was the reaction of ODM. The silence of the party was deafening. In fact over the last few days ODM has said very little. Why?

One theory is that the party does not want to accused of incitement or to be associated in any way to the violence that is bound to break out when news of Kibaki’s latest stand finally trickles down to the Rift Valley. Another is that they have realized that the best strategy is to led blundering Mwai Kibaki produce the rope himself and proceed to hang himself, which is precisely what is happening currently. It is increasingly clear, as Mutahi Ngunyi so aptly puts it, that this crisis is NOT about 2 people. It is not about Raila and Kibaki. Actually it is about one man. That man is Mwai Kibaki who wields all the power to end the crisis yesterday or last week.

Clearly the writing is on the wall. The talks will not work. In fact listening to Kibaki’s foot soldiers who are all saying the same thing, it is clear that PNU’s strategy is to use delaying tactics and just hold out until everybody tires and the next elections are around the corner. It remains to be seen whether this plan will work. Interestingly Danston Mungatana (who is also a lawyer by profession) says that any agreement arrived at by the peace negotiations, like power sharing, will need to get the approval of the people of Kenya through a referendum.

So what is going to happen next?

To start with I have no reason to doubt reports reaching me that there is heavy presence of the Kenya army in the Rift Valley. That means that the Kalenjin militia who the foreign press are telling us are preparing for war, will be dealt with. Only that the army is hardly trained to deal with civilian unrest. And besides it could easily degenerate into a guerrilla war which will be terrible news. Whatever the case the casualties are bound to be high.

It seems that the international community are also ready. Sample George W. Bush’s words in Rwanda yesterday;

What George Bush said;

“One of the lessons I take from the Rwanda genocide is to take some early warning signs seriously…

“Pay attention to the warning signs and prevent crises like this from happening. We are obviously trying to prevent such a crisis from happening in Kenya. Condi Rice briefed the president in her meeting yesterday (Monday), and we strongly support Kofi Annan’s efforts.

“I am not suggesting that anything close (to what happened in Rwanda) is happening in Kenya or is gonna happen, but I am suggesting that there are some warning signs that the international community needs to pay attention to. And we are paying attention to it and I know the AU will as well.”

P.S. It is said that the Nation editorial staff are under firm instructions from Paris (where the majority share holder the Aga Khan is based) to take a very low profile and to support Mwai Kibaki’s government as much as possible. That is why the headlines you see in Nation are bizarre these days.

My favourite so far is the one that talked about Anan signing a half way deal with PNU and ODM. Does anybody have any idea what that may mean? A half way deal?

Actually senior staff at the Nation group are all very jittery at the moment because the word on the street is that the Aga Khan is about to announce major changes at Nation Center. Nobody knows how major and nobody knows who is leaving and who is being promoted.

That fax could come through at any moment and on any day. Quite a terrible waiting situation to be in.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Has Salim Lone Fled From Kenya?

Famous Veteran Kenyan Journalist, ODM Communications Chief And Former United Nations Media Director Tells Friends That He Feared For His Life…

Sometime today (Monday Feb 18th 2008) some top ODM officials will get a little surprised when the party communications chief Salim Lone fails to return from what was supposed to be a brief trip to New York hurriedly taken last week.

The truth is that Salim Lone has been telling close friends abroad that he fled for his life from Kenya after threats from PNU. However a few things do not add up. Why keep everything secret from the ODM top brass? And if it is true that he was threatened, why has he still not gone public with the story that he has told many close friends?

Actually Lone’s action has caused lots of anxiety amongst close analysts and observers of the Kenyan situation but before I tell you why, a brief introduction of Lone to those who may not know him is in order.

Salim Lone is a Kenyan by nationality, a veteran journalist, and former Director of the News and Media Division, Department of Public Information, of the United Nations. He has also been a rather prolific columnist for the Daily Nation and also writes regularly for The Guardian in the UK.

Salim Lone was director of the news and media division (1998-2003) during his twenty one year career at United Nations headquarters. His last assignment was as spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq immediately after the US-led 2003 war and occupation.

Lone was the founding editor of the pioneer woman’s monthly in Kenya, Viva in the 70s and was in fact forced to flee the country during the early Moi years fearing arrest for some of his political pieces in Viva a magazine. That was what led to his arrival in New York and a 21 year career at the UN. Still he is no stranger to harassment from Kenyan security agents in those terrible years of limited press freedom where numerous activists disappeared and brave writers disappeared without trace.

So the truth is that Lone does not scare easily. That is why analysts are ev en more worried and are wondering what exactly caused the ODM communications director to suddenly hop onto a plane and flee.

Admittedly, it seems clear that Lone no longer felt safe in Kenya. But what is this threat which ODM and Raila Odinga could NOT adequately protect him from? And why keep his intentions secret by telling ODM colleagues that he was away briefly and would be back by Monday (today)?

Clearly Lone knows something that many of us do not know yet. One theory is that he was made aware that President Kibaki is about to arrest and detain without trial, all top pentagon members and their close associates. (Yes, the constitution still empowers him to d just that). The information that Kumekucha has from impeccable sources is that the Kamikaze-like Kibaki administration has been agonizing for weeks now over this decision. Hardliners within the Kibaki camp favor such a move and have been pushing for it. Those who know the president are well aware of his weakness of avoiding to make decisions until it is too late. He delayed his exit from Kanu until the very last minute and even waited until Christmas day December 1991 to announce his defection from Kanu to form his own political party, DP (Democratic Party).

Again, during his first term as president, Kibaki delayed making a decision about the LDP rebels within the Narc coalition and as a result allowed the rebellion to spread and the popularity of the rebels to rise to the detriment of his own. And when he finally got rid of them, he did it by dissolving the entire government. He however got a rude shock when for the first time in Kenya’s history a number of politicians rejected their appointments to the cabinet. Only a last minute desperate deal with Ford Kenya ad Musikari Kombo as well as Charity Ngilu, saved his government.

True to form, those who know the president well are predicting that he is about to make a drastic belated step in restoring order and stamping his authority as the “duly elected president.” Never mind about the Anan talks.

Another theory to explain Salim Lone’s decision to flee Kenya so suddenly is the much-talked about second wave of violence, which the Kalenjin community has called the “coming war,” which is widely expected to beak out if and when the Anan talks fail to reach an agreeable conclusion. It is possible that Lone felt that it would be difficult to leave the country then and therefore opted to flee early before the human waste hits the fun, as some people say.

This is the kind f speculation that has kept most analysts on their toes, even as Lone sticks to his story that he was threatened by some sympathizers of PNU. Whatever anybody wants to believe, it is clear that something very major is about to happen in Kenya.

Read a recent article on Salim Lone, complete with pictures.

P.S. This is a rather humbling time for Kenya. About two years ago a brief discussion about Kenya in Washington between Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete and President Bush sparked off a diplomatic row with complaints coming from the Kenya foreign office. Yesterday a similar discussion took place in Dar-es-salaam between Bush and Kikwete and this time there wasn’t even a whimper from Kenya.

Read the full account
of this meeting that ended with Bush leaving a grant of almost one billion US dollars to President Kikwete and Tanzania.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

James Kanyotu Is Dead

Kenya’s longest serving spy chief James Kanyotu is dead. He died last night at Nairobi Hospital where he had been rushed for treatment. It has still not been revealed to the press what he was suffering from. He was 76.

Kanyotu led the infamously cruel Special Branch from 1965 to 1991. Interestingly circumstances surrounding his dismissal by Moi in 1991 are worth noting here. It is said that shortly after then Health Minister in the Moi government, Mwai Kibaki announced his resignation from government in Mombasa on Christmas day 1991, then president Moi called Kanyotu and angrily asked him why he had not been made aware that Kibaki was resigning from his cabinet to form a political party. Kanyotu replied politely that he was not aware. Moi asked him angrily what he would do if he fired him. Kanyotu politely replied that that was the prerogative of the president. And that’s how Kanyotu left.

It is widely believed that Moi thought at the time that Kanyotu had held back the information from him deliberately because he came from the same tribe as Kibaki. Those who know Kanyotu say that he was too professional for that and are still very surprised that the man ever got involved in Goldenberg.

Moi seems to have had a phobia concerning Kibaki’s perceived political clout and during the first multi party elections that followed shortly in 1992, efforts were made to dig up all the dirt that could be found about Kibaki. That is when the infamous Mugumo tree quote first emerged. Moi’s think tank spent a fortune carrying ads giving negative “facts” about Kibaki. However it was soon clear that Moi had nothing to fear because Kenneth Matiba who ended up second, trounced Kibaki in those first elections and for a time Muranga Kikuyus were angry at Kibaki because he had denied their man the presidency by splitting the Kikuyu vote. Combining Matiba’s votes that year with those of Kibaki would have given Matiba a clear win.

Back to Kanyotu. The man made a remarkable recovery in terms of favor from Moi and the establishment and ended up being one of the main suspects of the Goldenberg scandal. He was in fact a director of the Kamlesh (Paul) Pattni’s Goldenberg International. This was hardly surprising because a man with the volume of information and secrets on the country that Kanyotu had was naturally a very dangerous man outside government.

In fact Kanyotu has taken with him to the grave many secrets that may have helped Kenyans understand the country better and prepare for the healing process that must follow soon if this nation is to be saved.

P.S. The Special Branch metamorphosed into today’s NSIS (National Security Intelligence Services) that was built up almost single handedly by President Moi’s former aide de camp, Maj Boinett. He moved quickly to get rid of most of the torture experts who had been used on proponents of democracy and who had been involved in some very nasty business getting rid of President Kenyatta and President Moi’s perceived political threats.

Interestingly the current NSIS is again at a cross roads after being misused by President Kibaki and the hardliners in his government to supply intelligence information that was obviously used to rig the December 29th polls. It is clear that NSIS needs to be reformed once again to stop future president’s using the important national institution for their own personal and selfish political interests.

The Crazy Things Kenyans Are Discussing In Domo

In a recent very heated chat session in Kumekucha Domo, our recently launched chat site, this photograph of Martha Karua, the Justice minister provoked very heated debate.

The subject was how the Minister could seat so carelessly. Many ladies made various unprintable comments about her thighs. (If You click on the image, you will be able to see an enlarged version of the picture and the said thighs in greater detail).
Somebody tried to defend the minister by pointing out that the thighs are scarred because of the very serious air crash accident she was involved in in Busia in 2003. But many of the participants could hear nothing of it.

To be honest a lot of what they said cannot be said here (sorry) but you can catch similar discussions at our chat site. Just go back to our main site and then scroll down on the side to the end of the ads and other details on the side bar and look out for “Userplane webchat”. If you don't see it there, scroll down right to the bottom (some browsers place it right at the bottom). Please be patient and wait for the site to load completely, only then will you be able to see see the small "userplane Webchat" window. You don’t even need to register to enter, just key in any screen name you would like to use and login to discover the crazy things Kenyans are discussing out there at the moment.

Kumekucha himself makes frequent appearances and reveals information that he cannot dare publish here. Stop missing all the action. Go to the Kumekcuha chat site now.

P.S. Others are making special friends at the chat site. Kumekucha recently found a very special lady friend there. Don’t envy him please. And not a word to Mrs Kumekucha (just kidding folks, she knows about it).

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Terrible Truth Kenyans Don’t Want To Hear

Listening to Mwai Kibaki yesterday, any alert Kenyan would have concluded that we are in very serious trouble. The “duly elected president” was at his vintage best (for those who know him well).

Firstly he pulled away Prof Sam Ongeri from the Anan talks a clear indication that launching the free secondary school education program was more important than those talks which so many Kenyans are hanging all their hopes on (pole sana). The whole idea is to prop up his government and emphasize business as usual (which is what every middle class and wealthy Kenyan is desperate for, for mostly selfish reasons).

Secondly Mwai Kibaki also talked at length about resettling displaced persons and the government helping them to rebuild their houses. I do not for one minute support the gruesome murder and chaos that has been going on, but what do you think the other side felt? Those with land issues high on their agenda. The president was behaving as if all that has happened means nothing.

Then there was another even clearer sign that all was not well. Annan came out of the talks yesterday looking a very tired and frustrated man. He asked the press to leave him alone and then took a long walk along Kenyatta Avenue with his bodyguards in tow. Later in the evening, he issued a statement announcing a news blackout on the talks and a last dash 48 to 72 hours to reach an agreement of sorts. It seems everybody has forgotten the strange events of last Friday when a breakthrough was announced and then when everybody went to Harambee house nothing happened.

Previous posts here by Taabu and Kalamari are pretty accurate about the state of affairs and it is clear from the comments that followed them that many Kenyans have a lot of hope riding on the Anan talks. Those Kenyans are not very different from Mwai Kibaki asking victims of post election violence to go back to the Rift Valley and promising that the government (which is rapidly running out of cash and resources) will build houses for them. In fact he made this announcement shortly after launching free secondary school education. Mr Kibaki must know something that we don’t, it seems that Kenya has discovered gold and oil at the same time, so money is no longer a problem despite the huge tourism earnings being wiped out.

If I were to tell you all about the real situation on the ground, it would be incitement. But let me censor things a little and give you an idea.

The Kalenjin community are far from being tired from all the violence. I actually grew up with kalenjins when I was very young and I was pretty sure that I know the community well. The events since December 30th have shown me that I know nothing. Many Kenyans are not aware f the fact that at one point the Kalenjin militia exchanged fire with the Kenya army. In the environs of Nakuru. The professional soldiers easily won ove the amateur ones, but my point is; can you imagine the cheek of attempting something so reckless?

You would need to visit the Rift Valley to understand the reality of the damage that has been done there. Heavily edited TV footage does not do justice to the situation on the ground.

But what makes it difficult for me to sleep at night is the attitude on the ground of this community. For starters they are NOT interested in a coalition government. Not even one with Raila as the president. All they want is the government they voted for in power.

One of my informants on the ground put it thus;

“I was amazed when a Kenyan from this community who hardly seems to have spent too long a period in a classroom told me that the idea is to cripple all transport to neighboring Uganda, Rwanda etc and get those people to join their side in the war. I almost asked him what War, but quickly checked myself. You don’t ask such questions in the Rift Valley.”

The Kikuyu have re-grouped very quickly and it seems that funds are flowing to he Mungiki so much so that unlike the Kalenjin militia, these guys don’t need to set up road blocks or get “taxes”. Where is the cash coming from? This makes these guys very focused in the things that they do. As you read this, Naivasha town has changed into some medieval town overnight where you will not find a single woman wearing trousers.

I cannot say more, but take it from me, things are not good.

To avert disaster what Kenyans badly need now is a peacekeeping force from the AU or UN to come into the country and stop the killings (which are on the increase by the way). The second agenda would be to find a way to come up with brand new constitution without involving the current crop of politicians who have brought the country to its’ knees. Then we need a new election where everybody who has ever been to parliament will be barred from standing for office. I am convinced that this will give us true leaders from he fresh crop (leaders are incidentally created at a time of great crisis such as his one). Anybody who claims that we have leaders in Kenya at the moment should have their heads examined.

P.S. I am also desperate for life to return to normal in Kenya. Most of my family including very close relatives is still in Kenya. But I have to be realistic based on the facts that I have. There is no point coming here and cheating my readers that all is well and that something will come out of the Anan talks. Still I would love to be wrong on this one folks, I really worry a lot.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dr Mutua’s Inclusion In Visa Ban being Discussed?

As Hardliners In Kibaki Government Reign Supreme

It was here in Kumekucha, early last month that we informed you that the International community was discussing possible Visa bans against prominent Kenyans who have contributed to the crisis in the country.

As you read this 10 Kenyans from both sides of the political divide are already on a list that should be made public soon. This initial list has no surprises and includes mainly individuals who should have had this Visa ban slapped on them years ago. Most of them featured prominently in the infamous Kroll report. As it is some analysts feel that it is too little late. However there is no denying the fact that it will hurt the individuals and their immediate families a great deal. Students will be deported from universities and wives who enjoyed frequent London or Dubai shopping trips will have less to talk and brag about at their next social.

But what should be even more interesting is the next list of 30 that the Americans have revealed that they are working on. Unconfirmed reports reaching Kumekucha indicate that the name of Dr Alfred Mutua the government spokesman may be on that list for issuing inflammatory statements before and after the crisis. Naturally this means that the name of his wife is also on the said list.

If this report turns out to be true numerous Kenyans will be delighted. It is even more hilarious because Mutua has recently released a statement praising the Visa ban and calling for the release of the names of persons on the list.

The so-called government spokesman has behaved in a manner that has put the entire PR profession into disrepute and derision. One friend has described him as “a nasty piece of work.” In fact charges should be preferred against Dr Mutua and his counterpart at the police headquarters, this Kiraithe man for spreading falsehoods. It is ludicrous that Kenyans expect their young ones and future generations to be model citizens incapable of picking up pangas to attack their neighbors when they lack role models and instead have the likes of Mutua and Kiraithe to look up to who repeatedly go on air to spread blatant lies in full view of their own children and even grand children. Remember the widely circulated story from Kiraithe and company to the effect that the clip showing a policeman shooting and killing an unarmed demonstrator in Kisumu was computer generated trickery akin to a Rambo movie? The latest is that the police officer involved, Edward Kirui has been arrested and will be charged with murder. See what I am talking about?

The inclusion of Mutua’s name on the list may just end up saving thousands of Kenyan youths from turning into serial liars and criminals.

Meanwhile the actions of the Kibaki administration clearly indicates that after weeks of uncertainty, the hardliners are firmly back at the helm. The idea of having both an Igad and East African Community meeting in Nairobi was the kind of evil idea that would only have emerged from the Kitchen cabinet. This group of old men seem to have been under the illusion that nobody would think much of the meetings and nobody would guess what their intentions were—namely to legitimize the Kibaki government. Actually this is one of the major causes of the crisis; that is people in the Kibaki government assuming that Kenyans are fools. The EAC meeting was postponed late yesterday and it is clear this happened because of the pressure from the opposition and the civil society.

What should worry Kenyans even more is that the hardliners are fully in charge as the so-called Annan peace talks are going on. It is already quite clear that the Kibaki camp will never change its’ position and they are only at the negotiating table to buy time so that things cool down.

Nothing but divine intervention can save Kenya now.

Is The Kenyan Economy On The Brink Of Shutting Down?

Plus: What will happen when you meet a Kibaki descendant at some cocktail party 30 years from now.

Business and economics is boring to most people, but I will keep this very simple, so please bear with me. This is very important and is bound to affect every Kenyan.

Over 300 CEOS based in Kenya recently came out in a strong lobby to political leaders to come back to their senses. Led by the brilliant Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph, the most important part of their message was a warning. Some politicians seem to think that if the violence were to stop today, life would immediately go back to normal. It is not quite as simple as that and after you read through this post, you will begin to understand why.

Let’s say you were a chief executive of a company handling consumer products, sitting somewhere in Industrial Area Nairobi. Where would your big markets be? Here I am sure I will surprise you.

Nairobi would naturally be your biggest market, especially the slum areas and low income estates. Have you ever wondered why every consumer product these days has a miniature size of everything? That is the market segment where most companies make their profits. Now we know the Kibera is virtually shut down and Mathare is almost there.

Then there is another problem. The vast majority of residents in those areas survive from hand to mouth. That means the Kshs 150 or 200 that they get paid daily for casual labor is what they will take to the shop to make their purchases for the day. Many of these people have not done any work since December 30th last year. Others make money from the daily sales of “mboga” (vegetables). We are all aware that many folks have not done any business since before the elections.

Back to our CEO seated in Nairobi. With things in a mess in Nairobi, it is only natural that you as CEO will need to look to your other large markets starting with Mombasa. Now don’t even go there because the tourism industry is no more. Interestingly there are many businesses in Nairobi that have been sustaining a large staff based on strong sales in Mombasa.

That would leave you as CEO with only the Mount Kenya region and parts of Eastern province which have also been affected indirectly because there are people there whose business relies on selling to customers in the affected regions of the country.

When you sit down and analyze the effects of the post election crisis, it becomes clear every single area of the economy has been affected and even if peace were to suddenly return now, over 50 per cent of the economy is gone with tourism (mainly at the Coast) and Kenya’s bread basket in the Rift Valley, topping the list of casualties.

The impact all this is having on unemployment is colossal. So colossal that it is a very serious threat to national security.

Interestingly these are boom times for certain service industries. One excellent example is the mobile telephony industry. When there is a crisis, communication increases and whatever little money that is flowing the economy will find its’ way into the pockets of mobile phone service providers like Safaricom and Celtel.

Let me end this post by saying something about the Kenya shilling. I don’t know how long the government will be able to prop up the Kenya shilling for. But there is suspicion that this is being done to allow some certain fat cats to transfer their local assets to some safe havens outside the country. Incidentally Swiss accounts and European cities are no longer considered safe (the Kroll report blew that myth sky high). New destinations include other African countries like Namibia (large amounts of the stolen Moi assets have been transferred there) and a few other African countries. These sources claim that as soon as this exercise is over, the shilling will drop to its’ real value (estimated at around Kshs 80 to the dollar currently and still falling).

P.S. Whatever happens next, history will remember Mwai Kibaki as the one term president and former economics professor who made a terrible miscalculation that cost Kenyans dearly. I don’t envy future generations of the Kibakis. Imagine meeting a young Kibaki somewhere 30 years from now. The conversation would go something like this.

You: Kibaki? Any relations to the former president?

Kibaki: I am the great grandson, but please keep it secret, my life has been miserable because of it and there is nowhere in the world I can hide.

You: You can’t really blame people can you, your great grandfather was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Kenyans and some very serious distraction. I’m sorry but this is too emotional for me, please allow me to mingle with other guests.

(You will then make a quick exit muttering unprintable words under your breath).


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